4 Medical Office Risks and How to Handle Them
People usually associate healthcare providers with the act of saving lives, not doing harm. However, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the third most common cause of death in the United States. Also, as reported in a related article published by Forbes.com, medical malpractice payouts totaled more than 3 billion dollars last year alone. Fortunately, there are some helpful things you can put into practice in your medical office to reduce the risk of unexpected patient outcomes, and potential subsequent lawsuits. Keep reading to learn about four things that could pose risks, and how to combat them.
Failure to Follow All Complaints Through to Diagnoses
As stated in a journal called Family Practice Management, one of the most common reasons why healthcare providers find themselves tangled in lawsuits is because a patient alleges a diagnosis was never fully reached. Whether that’s because symptoms were brushed off as not serious enough to investigate at all, or because those complaints were not examined with full attention is irrelevant. To err on the side of caution, caregivers who are involved in making diagnoses should always pay careful attention to each symptom a patient mentions, no matter how slight it may initially seem to be. Put that practice into action every day within your healthcare facility.
Inconsistent or Improper Follow-Ups for Test Results
At some point or another, almost everyone has had to go through the nail-biting experience of sitting by the phone to anxiously wait for a doctor to call and deliver the results of a medical test. Tracking and cataloging those results carefully can give more peace of mind to patients and also ensure they’re kept current about the state of their health. If you have to send test data outside the office for analysis and it doesn’t come back promptly, take the initiative to see why there’s been a delay. Also make sure each record is reviewed and initialed by the treating physician before getting filed into the patient record. Finally, come up with a procedure for contacting patients as soon as possible and delivering results without violating privacy by doing something such as giving too much information to another household member.
Waiting Too Long to Get Advice from a Colleague
No matter which sector of healthcare you work in, you’re probably well aware of how difficult it can sometimes be to reach a diagnosis, despite all the tests and tools at your disposal. If you’re stumped about the symptoms a patient is presenting with, waiting too long to get other opinions can be dangerous to your career and to the patient’s health. Guided by the feedback of your entire medical office staff, come up with a set of guidelines for how much time should pass before the initial treating physician gets a consult from a colleague.
Inadequate Infection Control
A release from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention cautioned that some medical facilities need to make improvements in the area of infection control. To do that in your own environment, make sure at least one staff member is certified or thoroughly trained in infection control measures and speak to all staff members about the proper ways to handle materials like patient waste and used needles. Establish sanitation standards too, so that as soon as one patient leaves an exam room, a staff member is prepared to step in and adhere to a plan that stops the spread of dangerous germs as much as possible.
The risks above are common, but luckily you now know how to tackle them in ways that can safeguard patient health and caregiver livelihood. The recommended strategies aren’t difficult to follow, but they can be very effective.
Brett Harris is a medical assistant and part-time blogger. Enter the medical field by attending one of the Top 10 online medical assistant degree programs.